Editorial: Arts and Science Referendums: You Better Vote

Voting at GAs is more important than you might think. Graphic Carl Bindman

GA participation rates have been alarmingly low these past few years. This is unfortunate, given the radical history of student activism at Concordia—notably the 1969 Computer Riot and the 2002 Netanyahu Riot

If students cannot advocate for themselves during GAs, how will we fight broader socio-economic and political disparities? Getting involved in student politics may seem like a daunting task, but doing so is crucial for getting our voices heard.

Throughout September, member associations of the Arts and Science Federation of Associations will be hosting their respective annual general assemblies. One point on the agenda they all have in common is a referendum to decide if students will strike during the week of Oct. 3, which is the fall reading week for most Canadian universities.

If you study the humanities, social sciences or natural sciences, your participation in these upcoming referendums is pivotal to determining the faculty’s students’ course of action.

A reason GAs have low participation rates may be because students feel disenchanted by politics—they don’t see how their lives are impacted by the decisions made in these assemblies. 

The question on student strikes will directly impact your academic semester. If you don’t vote during your member association’s GA, you will not have a say in the matter. Don’t be the student who crosses the picket line if you didn’t even bother voting in the referendum. 

In March 2021, the Senate approved the fall reading week, but it will only be implemented in 2023. In late August of this year, The Link asked Concordia President Graham Carr why it’s taking two and a half years for the university to carry out this plan. He claimed that since the fall semester will go from being 13 weeks long to being 12 weeks long, adjusting the curriculum of courses accordingly “takes time.”

Students first started asking for a fall reading week in March 2019. Only having it enacted nearly half a decade later is a slap in the face for those who fought for this well-deserved break. On top of this, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of burnout and mental health problems, making the need for a fall reading week even more critical. 

On Sept. 9, the Geography Undergraduate Student Association voted to join the Urban Planning Association’s lead in striking during the first week of October. However, the results indicated a severe lack of student participation, with 11-10 votes in favour of the strike and 11 abstentions. 

The upcoming referendums are the first major opportunity for student unity and potential discourse since the return to campus, and it would be a waste to pass up on it simply because politics is messy.

Please consult our GA schedule to know when to vote, which can be found on p.7.


This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 2, published September 13, 2022.